Katrina victims housed in toxic trailers win payout

A class-action settlement is approved in FEMA trailer dispute

Published September 28, 2012 12:49PM (EDT)

Victims of Hurricane Katrina, housed in hazardous, government-issue trailers will receive a $42.6 million settlement.

On Thursday, a federal judge approved the class-action settlement. It will be paid out by companies that made and installed the FEMA trailers, which exposed occupants to dangerous fumes.

According to the AP, "Roughly 55,000 residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas will be eligible for shares of $37.5 million paid by more than two dozen manufacturers. They also can get shares of a separate $5.1 million settlement with FEMA contractors that installed and maintained the units."

Government tests found dangerously high levels of formaldehyde in hundreds of the trailers. Occupants had complained of health problems including nosebleeds, breathing problems and headaches.

The lead plaintiffs' attorney described the settlement as "modest," and the AP noted that a number of victims are disappointed with the outcome:

"We were told not to look for much," said Anthony Dixon, a New Orleans resident who says he developed asthma while living in a FEMA trailer for two years.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Class-action Fema Formaldehyde Katrina New Orleans